St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Becoming a Scientist

My First Microscope  Russ Hanson

When I was about 12 years old, I asked my parents for my own microscope for either Christmas or my Birthday (December 10th).  We shopped for Christmas presents from the two big home catalogs – Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Wards.  I had decided to be a scientist by that time and I knew I needed a microscope, telescope, chemistry set and some science books to read. 


I picked out a $12 microscope that looked like what I could use and was in the price range I thought was right for a present.  I worked on the farm, but it wasn’t until next year that I could work for my neighbor, Raymond Noyes and earn money on my own.  All of the money we earned picking cucumbers for the pickle factory was saved ($80 a summer) for school clothes. 

 In 1958, Dad worked out at $1 per hour as a carpenter when he had time while still farming fulltime, so $12 was what he earned for 12 hours of work – a great deal of money for the whole family.  
Mom and Dad felt that gifts for us that were educational were worth paying more for than toys.  As I wanted this badly, I negotiated with them and said I would accept it as both my birthday and Christmas gift for 1958.   I got it on my birthday.   I did get a few smaller gifts for Christmas, but the microscope was the main gift.   


 It came with two eyepieces and a few blank glass slides and a little booklet (now lost) on how to use it.   In the booklet, it said I should order glass slides with coverslips and glass slides with wells to put a drop of liquid.  So with a few dollars of birthday/Christmas money I ordered them too.  I don’t have those anymore with the microscope.

It took a while to learn how to use the microscope and I found that most things were best seen at the lowest power.  The longer eyepiece and the shortest rotating stage gave 60x (60 times magnification).  Higher powers were hard to focus and difficult to get the light right and dirt on the lenses showed up more.   

Things that were mostly transparent worked with the little round mirror under the stage (flat part) adjusted to focus light up through the hole, through the specimen on the glass slide and into the eyepiece.  Changing the mirror angle gave more or less light and made different views. 

If it was opaque (opposite of transparent) then I needed some light shining from the top side on the specimen.  An old goose-neck bendable reading lamp worked OK for this.  Later I bought a small flexible desk lamp just for using the microscope.

The first things I looked at were things around the house.  Flies, cloth, thread, food, and whatever looked interesting.  I wanted to look at pond water but that was harder until I got the coverslips – tiny flat thin sheets of glass.  Using an eyedropper (from an old Vicks medicine bottle) I put a drop of water from the swamp on the slide and looked.  It was messy and I got the bottom of the lens wet and dirty when I wasn’t careful and moved it too low.  It was is bothersome to clean them (all of them come apart by unscrewing them and can be cleaned with a cue-tip and alcohol). 

When I got the coverslips, I could put the drop down, gently put the coverslip over it and then look at the thin layer of trapped water between glass and slip.  I got a book from the school library and identified all sorts of little animals—big rotifers, amoebas, tiny odd looking things, euglena (half plant-half animal) and mosses algae and more—often swimming around in the tiny flattened drop. Nowadays a student can ask the school biology teacher to borrow a couple of glass slides and cover slips, but I was in grade school at Cushing and they didn’t have a microscope at all, and science was mostly from books.

 I spent hours looking at the life in an eyedropper drop of swamp water, of Wolf Creek water from Grandpa’s farm (Marvin’s now) and of course I looked at dirt, at sand, at plants, at blood, and everything I could find. 

 Eventually when I got into high school, the biology lab had a few microscopes that were much better and bigger and I could see more, but I always liked my own first microscope, and so kept it all my life to bring it out once in a while to look at something. 
It is an Adams 60x to 600x although the higher powers don’t work very good – and the lens are now somewhat dirty, I could use them if I was careful.   Having a microscope taught me to be careful, gentle, and scrupulously clean, and that is why my microscope still works.

When a lens is dirty, you can tell that by turning the eyepiece and seeing the dirt move on that set of lenses, or turning out  It could be cleaned up more, but it takes patience, care and is hard to get it really clean. 

The microscope was made in Japan, has brand name Adams  60x – 600x and came from either Sears or Wards.

My Uncle Lloyd Hanson got me started in electronics as the branch of science I decided to specialize in.  He told us about a “crystal radio” that he had in his barracks during World War II in California where he was  stationed.  He brought it out and said it ran without batteries and needed a long wire aerial and a ground, and could pick up local radio stations during the day and more at night.  He said during the war, they weren’t supposed to have a radio in the barracks as it would bother other people, so he used this one – a wooden box about 6x6x6 with some knobs and dials and a place to hook an earphone and the aerial and ground. 

He loaned it to me to try out and although I never got it going, decided to get a Crystal Radio for $4 from Sears for another birthday and that one did work.  I built it myself.  We didn’t have any good books on this in any libraries around and we didn’t get to them anyway, so I wrote to the Wisconsin Free Traveling Library in Madison for books on crystal radios, and they sent me one, and later another to read for a month.  The library was for folks in rural areas who couldn’t otherwise get books on subjects they wanted. No internet in those days!

By the time I was 16, I built my 6 inch reflector telescope, had bought several electronics kits, got a chemistry set for Christmas and was already taking all the science classes in High School and planning to go to college in physics, math and chemistry.  I managed to get a major in physics and math, later a minor in chemistry and another minor in computer science and took night classes most of my working life to learn more about electronics and computers.  However, my main job for 25 years was in medicine and biology where I was useful to the biologists because I knew about much of the science and math they didn’t study.   

 (I plan to give the microscope away to a budding scientist and this is for that person)
I hope you have as much enjoyment out of looking at the microscopic world under your first microscope as I did.  When I got older – much older, I bought a used better microscope that I still have.  I could see things better, but never really enjoyed it nearly as much as this one.  It is now 60 years old and, other than needing some cleaning, in just about as good a shape as when I got it.







Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 Living on the Farm -Jan - June

If you wonder what we were doing from last January to June 1st here on the Farm in NW Wisconsin, I made a file out of the Facebook posts and photos so those of you who don't follow me on Facebook can read.  

Jan - June 2017 On the Farm and Vacations


Thursday, September 7, 2017

1949 in NW Polk County Wisconsin

Looking for the obituary of Jens Rasmussen for a research project at the Luck Museum, I went to the morgue in the Leader office in Frederic WI a few years ago and pulled out the 1949 Leader.  First I noticed that there was a Burnett Co Leader and a Polk County Leader.  I chose the Polk County Leader book.  I had to look through the whole year of news until finally in December, at the end of the year's search, I found what I was looking for. 

On my way to December I ran into some interesting items. 

March 1949:  The Cushing Sportsmen's Club was building two 50x100 netting pens to raise 700 pheasants. 
There were over 200 members then.  There was a mild winter and an abundance of deer being fed in
deer yards by the Conservation Department.  The Cushing sportsmen requested restocking of some lakes in the area after a heavy freeze out that winter. 

Stokely's at Milltown added two buildings; a 22x72 foot barracks equipped with showers and other modern equipment for housing employees during canning season.  They also added 24x60 addition for packaging the cans.  They contracted for 1400 acres of peas and 1700 acres of corn for 1949.   

 B. S. Issacson of Amery, Wisconsin wrote in to reminisce about threshing in Georgetown for John Shay.  He had an old horsepower unit that used horses to walk around turning a shaft to run the machine.  "I had six horse to groom and feed and Bob Crane had four.  Joseph Crane and I spelled off feeding the machine and we got done threshing those days before snow came.  We threshed as much as 1000 bushels on the old Alen farm in Apple River.  I guess that was the biggest job we had.  Mr. Shay died that fall and the next year steam rigs came in.  I bought the horse power, but never threshed with it.  I sold the separator to Olaf Olson by Shiloh.  He had what he called a little steam engine he ran it with, and the horse power I traded to Lewis Schmidt in Osceola.  It got out of date awfully fast.  When I worked in Georgetown (1890s) there were only the Brane Bros. farming there.  They had all be in the war (Civil) and old Zimmer and Jack Ora carried mail from Balsam Lake to Bunyan.  The Anderson boys lived out east of Blake Lake.  I could have bought the whole flat east of Blake school for $1 per acre. 
     The Harry Brown tent show opened in Balsam Lake, June 4, for a five night stand.  For 43 years Harry Brown brought clean entertainment to this section and following his death a year ago his son Jack Brown who worked with his father from childhood, took up the reins and will carry on.  Mrs Harry Brown will stay at her home at Amery.  The troop this season is carrying 15 experienced actors and musicians and will present as an opening sow the old time favorite "The Big Push."
    The Cushing Tigers beat the Clam Falls team 10 to 2 with Longnecker from Cushing striking out 16. A month later, Clam Falls beat Cushing 12-10.  Clam Falls had players Rudd, Moody, Milton, K. Nelson, L. Nelson (Loren Nelson 3rd base who had 1 run, 1 hit and three errors!), Grant, Smith, Hacker and N. Nelson.  Cushing had H. Nelson, Hanson, Williams, W. Wilson, L. Wilson, E. berg, G. Laier (George Laier, 1st base who had 5 at bats with 1 run, and 3 hits), Hacker, Longnecker, and manager/pinch hitter
    The Trade Lake Lutherans had their 80 birthday and the Atlas Community church their 75th.  On July 2nd, Marlys Johnson and Leroy Hedberg got married (making it 60 years now in 2009).  Marlys wore a "street-length dress of aqua blue, with black accessories and a shoulder corsage of white orchids."  Leroy wore a blue suit with a white carnation boutonniere. 
    Elery K. Brenizer of Wolf Creek passed away July 1, 1949.  He was born in Dunkerton Iowa in 1879 and came to Wolf creek in 1903 with his wife Jessie.  He is survived by four sons, five daughters, three brothers and a sister.  Reverend James Everson and his wife sang "Abide With Me," Rock of Ages," Nearer My God to Thee," and "The Old Rugged Cross."  Pallbearers were Edwin Erickson, Leon Marriette, Maurice Hanson, Leonard Noyes, Roy Rutsch, and Hugh Orr.  Interment at Wolf Creek. 
    The eleventh annual Sterling Old Settlers picnic was enjoyed by a large crowd on Trade River.  Charles Nick Jr., played the accordion; Mrs Joe Lagoo gave a humorous reading, "The Coffee Party"; Nina Borup, a humorous reading "Why Worry"; Mrs. Andrew Nordstrom told how she and Mrs Nels F Nelson planned the first picnic; Chairman Christ Christianson introduced the speaker, Rev. Silas Larson of the Cushing Lutheran Church.  Lois and Helen Larson rendered a duet.  Mrs. Wm. Hoffman presented the awards.  In 1940, when Mr. and Mrs. Earl Roberts (married 57 years in 1949) first attend the picnic it was 40 years to the day when Mrs. Roberts moved from Sterling.   Eric Nordstrom made and served the coffee.  A big improvement at the grounds this year was the new fireplace made by Walter Neufeldt. 
     The Sterling Hustlers 4H met at John Schadow home.  The next meeting will be at the Willard Swenson home.  The club decided to have the club tour Aug 12th starting at the Orr school and the club fair Aug 20th at the Orr school.  Nancy Schadow, Club Reporter.  At the next meeting they practiced their play to be given at the Club Fair.
    The Polk County Fair advertised a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Fair, August 23-25.  Tuesday was the horse pulling contest; Wednesday an albino horse show; and Thursday the Greater Olympia Circus show.  Wednesday and Thursday afternoon were baseball games.  Twenty five cents admission; free parking and a large Midway with rides, shows and concessions. 
    And advertisement said "Bean Pickers wanted by stokely Foods, Frederic.  Report to the Leonard Boe place, Thursday morning, September 1.  We will pay 4 cents per pound."
    A photo of Captain Roland Nichols was in the paper.  He piloted his F-80 Jet Fighter in a non-stop flight of 950 miles in two hours and 20 minutes, smashing all existing Air Force records for mass-over-water flights by the F-0 fighter when 41 of the speedy ships flew from Okinawa to Japan.  Roland has been in the service since 1942. 
    Dr. J. A. Riegel, of St. Croix Falls led the River Rats in a canoe trip on the Namekagon river.  They started this in 1934.  This year they set up camp on the Namekagon and stayed in one camp.  Each day a couple of canoes and canoers were trucked up river to float back to camp; and another couple went down and were picked up and brought back in the evening.  The fishing was not too good.  Al Stenberg, Hank Wallin, Burnett Larson, Conrad Peterson, Kenneth Wallin, Ernie Wallin, Elliott Tarbell and Ted Clymer and others were in the group.  Breakfast was "coffee, pancakes and syrup, fried eggs and bacon, fried potatoes, fish and sausages topped off with a few slices of cantaloupe of Jake's raising."  Amongst the group were a doctor, undertaker, justice of the peace, inseminator, forester, and newspaper reporter--none of whose skills were needed on the trip.
    Mrs. Charles Carnes (Nancy Brown) passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs Eugene Hanson at the age of 94 September 11th.  She was born near Waterloo, IA July 18, 1855.  She married Charles Wesley Carnes, Nov 14, 1880.  They had five children, Zen, Ray, Nettie, Clarence and Elza.  Included in the survivors were a granddaughter, Mrs. Alberta Hanson, of Cushing.  They were converted in the Baptist church near Waterloo and soon after they entered into the ministry of the Free Methodist church, where they gave over 40 years of faithful service.  Her husband died in 1931, and she had made her home with her daughter since.  At the service, Rev. and Mrs. Caulkins sang "Abide With Me", "The eastern Gate", and "Safe In The Arms of Jesus". 
    Polk County Judge Charles Madsen, wrote an article "Youth Delinquency Rampant."  In September, five boys were in Juvenile court for stealing.  Two other boys on probation were arrested in Minneapolis and confessed to 22 burglaries in 3 states. Three other young men were arrested for burglaries and cattle rustling.  At least a half a dozen other boys are waiting to be brought to court for petty theft.  Judge Madsen, who was chairman of the Polk County Community Fund Drive that year, said the answer was to support organizations like Scouts, 4-H, Children's Service Society (adoption agency) and other groups who help youth by contributing to the fund drive.
    Herbert Erickson, Rt. 2, Grantsburg (Trade River) was in the Leader office on business and told us he had a television set installed the day before--the first on in his community.  "It is really wonderful, and works perfectly", he said.  McNally Brothers of Grantsburg installed the set.
    In the Pleasant Valley News, Mr. and Mrs. Delmer Boatman were visitors at the Virgil Chappelears.  Emma Johnson, 71, had a birthday party.   Lavonne Johnson is employed at the Henry Giller home while Mr.s Giller is working at St. Croix Falls and Mrs. Dugal Giller is employed at the Yo-yo factory at Luck.   Night school classes have begun at the Pleasant Valley school Tuesday evenings. Anyone wishing to attend are welcome.  Miss Jeanne Lippert and Frank Reynolds of Milltown high school are conducting the classes.  Emma Johnson had a light stroke; she had visitors including Mr. and Mrs. Robert Louis, Keith and Gene.
    October 1, Lucille Armstrong, daughter of Ray Armstrong of Cushing, married Calvin Anton of Thief River Falls, MN.  They left immediately for a wedding trip to Lake Winnibigoshish.  October 16 they were honored at a wedding shower.  Songs included "Beautiful Saviour" by Mrs Robert Lumsden and Roy Swanson; an original poem was read by Mrs. Roy Armstrong; Marcia Lumsden played two accordion numbers and Mrs. Ernest Armstrong gave a reading.  
   Mr. and Mrs Sam Burton of Trade River were tendered a house warming on Tuesday October 25.  Lat March, Sam built the new garage (gas station) on Hwy 87 and the family had temporary living quarters in that building until two weeks ago.  Then they moved into the new house just completed, back of the garage.  The party was held at the Trade River School as the house ws not big enough for the large crowd present.  The program included a duet by Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Johnson; a reading by Mrs. Alton Anderson; a duet by Joseph and Connely Peterson with harp accompaniment; remarks by Rev. Orville Falk. A nice lunch was served and a purse off money ws presented to the honored couple as a remembrance of the pleasant occasion.
    Mrs. Christ Clausen of Cushing brought three mammoth eggs to the Leader office.  Measurements were 6.5 by 7.5 inches.  Mrs. Clausen told us that three to four of these large eggs are gathered every day from her yearling White Leghorn flock.
    The 1949 deer hunting regulations include a white-tail season from Nov 19-23 (5 days).  Bag limit, one deer per season either anterless or with antlers not to exceed a forked horn with a branch of fork two inches long, to be measured from inside angle.  North of Hwy 8, rifles or shotguns with a single slug.  South of hwy 8 only shotguns. 
    
    Mr. and Mrs. Charley Malmen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Oct 30 at the Cushing Church.  A fine time was had.  Songs included "Blest be the Tie that Binds", a duet by Abe Skone and Mrs. Ezra Hanson "I'll Go With You" and "There's A Garden."


  Jens Peter Rasmussen, born 1871 in Denmark passed away December 9, 1949 at Siren.  He married Laura Madsen in 1894, came from Denmark to Luck, WI in 1898, where he engaged as a carpenter and construction work.  In 1911, he went to Siren wnere he built the lumber yard with Jens Pedersen of Luck which he owned and operated until 1922 when it was sold to Consolidated Lumber Co.  Mr. Rasmussen managed it until he retired in 1940.  Funeral services were held at the J. B. Hansen chapel with Rev James Everson officiating.  Mr. and Mrs. Everson sang "Some Day the Silver Cord Will Break," "The Last Mile of the Way." and "God's Way is the best Way."  Interment was at the Siren Cemetery.  Amongst the survivors were his son Jens of Siren.  On August 1, 2009, the Burnett Area Artists Group will have a display of 60 paintings of Jens Rasmussen in Siren at the Lakeview Event Center on hwy 35/70, 10-7.  Jens, the son, was born in Luck and moved with his family to Siren.   

Monday, August 7, 2017

Polk County Wisconsin -- Destruction of the Fair Grounds?

    The Polk County Fair is over for another year.  It has been part of my life since the earliest I can remember, first as a thrilled toddler riding the Merry-Go-Round, then as a 4-H'er, later as helping Mom with her 50+ years of exhibiting fruits and vegetables, then as Margo and I began exhibiting.  
    When we retired in 2005, we began volunteering at the fair, mostly working at the 1850s historic school house, helping with make it a historical stop during the fair, something we did again this year. 
   However, the historic nature of the fairgrounds, with many buildings 100 years old or more, is being threatened by a group of folks who believe old is bad, and new is good, threatening the future of the dozen or so historic buildings at the 1886 fairgrounds. 
  Here is my letter to the editor this week.  I have become an advocate for repairing the 1909 grandstand, and that has evolved into concern over all of the old buildings.  
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    The Polk County Fair Park in St Croix Falls has many historic buildings in danger of being destroyed by the Polk County Fair Society and the Polk County Board.  We must act now to stop this wanton destruction of our history on the 1886 fairgrounds.  They are our buildings, owned by us, the residents or taxpayers of the county.  The two boards appear to be moving rapidly to begin the process with the 1909 grandstand destruction, but this is but the tip of the iceberg.  Motivated by visions of newness, pushed by a campaign of misinformation and aided by  intentional neglect, we are in grave danger of losing at least three more buildings in the near future.  
   The historic 1909 grandstand is the first in line, but the 1850s Red School House, the flower building, and the dance pavilion are next in line if the current Fair Society continues to pull the wool over the eyes of us and of the county board.    
    Margo and I have been volunteering at the fair since 2005 helping with the oldest building on the fairgrounds, the Red School House, and are members of the Fair Society.   At the fair this year we heard disturbing news of planned destruction, far beyond that of the grandstand, ideas that we previously had dismissed as rumors, but now confirmed by members of the Fair Society Board, members of the County Board, and by volunteers at the fair and fair goers. 
   The disturbing news?  There is a campaign to rid the south end of the fairgrounds of the wonderful old buildings and replace them with another pole shed.  The grandstand is first, and the other buildings next. 
   The campaign includes intentional neglect of the buildings.  I was rather dumbfounded last year when, seeing the Red school house was badly in need of paint inside and out, and a few window sash replacements, I made a written offer to raise $500 to begin the fixes and the offer was ignored by the fair board. 
  This year when I talked to fair board members, asking them why they weren’t fixing the old buildings or at least taking my offer to do it myself with the school, was told that the job was overwhelming, $100,000 or more needed because of lead paint issues, and the building was in such poor shape it wasn’t worth fixing and the comment, that we should be grateful the society kept the school house around another year for historic exhibits at all.   
  That lead paint is an excuse is complete nonsense!  The school house is like any building, in need of ongoing care, but the issues are minor and those of neglect.  A little maintenance and it will be good for several more generations of fairgoers.         
    The Wisconsin Historical Society tells us “You do not need to take drastic measures to eliminate lead paint from your historic house or building. Lead paint is only a hazard if it is unstable, so the mere presence of lead paint is no reason to destroy the historic fabric of your structure…procedures to safely remove lead paint should not cost more than 10% above the cost of a hand-scraped paint removal job”  and goes on to explain the easily followed details, the same things I do with my own 100 year old house.  
     Not only did fair board members raise this lead as an insurmountable issue, but a county board member repeated it last week.  Part of a campaign of misinformation from the Fair Society and bought, without question, by some county board members, who should at least take the time to understand these issues rather than just repeat incorrect information (BS is really a better description).   
   Another issue with the school:  two of the eighteen window sashes need replacement now and others will in the future.  The wildly exaggerated cost by board members is, like that of lead paint, totally bogus. The frames need painting but are sound.  A replacement, made-to-size barn sash that matches the historic existing windows perfectly is about $60/per sash at Menards, and easily replaced.  When I volunteered this year to do the fixes and fund them, through donations from local history societies, I was told I couldn’t proceed by fair board members.     
   What we have, is a campaign of destruction, led by the Fair Society President Dale Wood, in what appears to be a personal mission to destroy the historic buildings on the fairgrounds and replace them with pole sheds.  Mr. Wood claims phone calls and people from the community are unanimously behind him – hundreds of them all in favor of ridding the fairgrounds of its history, with the grandstand the first domino.  
    Our County board makes the final decisions on buildings, informed (misinformed?) by the Fair Society as to what needs work. County board member, Larry Jepson noted at a board committee meeting last week, that while at the fair, he noted the peeling paint, deteriorating roofs, and a general lack of upkeep on the buildings.  Administrator Frye commented that the Fair Society has the obligation to bring those problems to the County Board’s attention, and if the buildings are deteriorating, the Fair Society is not doing its job, either in doing the maintenance or asking the county to take it on.    
   My opinion is that the neglect is intentional and part of the attempt to get rid of older buildings by the Fair Society.  We all know that we have to continue to maintain our own houses to keep them livable.  The fair buildings are no different.    
  We, the residents and taxpayers of Polk County own the fairgrounds as a county owned park.  We vote for our County board members to represent our interests. If we value the fairgrounds and want the historic buildings to continue a part of our fair experience, we must make our voice heard too.  
        The next county board meeting, Aug 15th, 6 pm, considers a resolution to fund an engineering study of the grandstand that would actually find out the condition and cost of repair to continue using the oldest grandstand in the whole Midwest.    
    Right now we don’t even know what is wrong with it nor the cost of getting it fixed.    Any rational group of folks making a decision on their own buildings, unless they were insistent on a new building only, or no building at all, would start by finding out what is wrong and the cost of fixing it before making the decision to tear it down.   Yet that is likely not to happen with the grandstand. 
    Egged on and misinformed by the Fair Society, our county board representatives are likely to vote against even this modest step!   Five or more members may be voting nay in their belief that any money spent on the fairgrounds at all is a waste of  taxpayer’s money and open bleachers or grassy knolls are the answer. A few more will vote against it for fear the cost of fixing will be reasonable, and so get in the way of the Fair Society’s campaign to modernize everything, having accepted the Fair Society’s propaganda efforts.   
  What can we do to stop this push to destruction of our history?  Make your opinion heard by both County and Fair board members.   We own these buildings and only we can stop this campaign to destroy our heritage. 
  August 15, 6 pm, at Balsam Lake at the county board meeting is the crucial step in this process when a vote for the engineering study is a vote to proceed rationally, and against is a vote to destroy our history.   
   Become a member of the Polk Co Fair Society.  Just send $5 to Diane Kuhl, 298 30th St., Clear Lake, WI 54005.  include your name, address, telephone number, email – 5 year membership.  Sometimes we must work within organizations that purport to have our best interests in mind. 
  By the way, the Red School House had its peeling paint and rusted spots on the outside touched up, the inside worst flaking paint removed, and a temporary fix for the two sagging window sashes by an anonymous volunteer who just did it.   

The Flower building looks like an old school house too.  It has a handicap entrance to the side, and other than some peeling paint, quite nicely preserved!   

The 1850s School House where Margo volunteer.  With a little paint and some window sashes, it will be fine for many more generations of visitors. 

The metal brick embossed siding is sound, but needed some touchup and probably a full painting.  Last time was by the 4-H kids many years ago. 

After some scraping and touchup paint, the siding rust and peeling is halted, but painting the whole building would be better. 




Monday, July 31, 2017

The 2017 Polk County Fair in Photos

Some photos from the fair July 27-30, 2017.  No editing, sorting, etc, just straight from the camera.  
link 1
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B8SQWdFJt54LMUJPeHdWWmE3aE0


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June Berries

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Photos from around the farm the third week of June 2017













Sunday, June 18, 2017

Graduation Parties

    Margo and I showed up at our great niece Karra's high school graduation party yesterday.  The only one we went to this year.  Karra has uncertain plans for continuing her education, possibly working a year and then going on to school.  We always try to encourage new high school graduates, that this is just a step in their education, not the end of it. 
  When I taught high school in Goodman, WI, back in the 1970s, I encouraged my students to go on to college or vocational school, telling them "life can be quite enjoyable if you get a good job that you like and pays a decent wage,  but that requires preparing yourself by more education."
   Goodman is a small lumber town on Hwy 8, near the Michigan border.  The town had a large veneer mill and sawmill and originated as a mill town where Mr. Goodman owned everything including the houses, bank, store, etc.  Louisiana Pacific had bought the mill when Goodman died, and decided they didn't really want to own a town, so sold all but the mill, store and bank to the folks living in the houses. 
  The problem I had with the mill was we had opposite views on the future of the Goodman students.  
  I thought they all should continue in school after high school.  The few jobs in town that were not mill jobs, were small service businesses (hardware, gas station, bar/restaurant), the school system and not much more. 
  Mill jobs were low paying, low benefits and not quite enough for a family to live on without a two-income family. 
  The Mill liked to hire kids right out of high school, first a summer job to earn some money for college,  but then a bank loan to buy a car, tying then into monthly payments, gas, insurance etc., taking most of the income.  I had one mill manager tell me straight out -- "we need labor to run the mill, so don't tell everyone to go on to school."  
  The mill needed lots of manual labor with a skill set learned on-the-job.  The highest pay for anyone working there, not in management, was about half of the $12,000/year I made teaching (working 9 months to earn that).  Margo and I and our new baby Scott struggled to live on that income, and it was impossible for the mill hands to live on a single salary income. 
  Many of my students did go on to school. With few opportunities in Goodman, they had to leave to find a job.  
  One student was particularly difficult for me.  She (we will call her Emma -- not her name)  was a very bright student, loved science and math, even to the point where I got a "do it yourself" type electronics course for her to take under my guidance.  When I tried to encourage her to go on to college or technical school, she was interested, but uncertain.   Her father was gone from the scene (not sure why), and her mother was very religious and of a sect that didn't believe in education or being much of the world. 
  At the parent teacher conference, I talked to the mother about her daughter's obvious abilities and interests and desirability of encouraging them in the future, and was completely shut down, with the "I don't believe in that for my children.  Education will turn them away from God and our beliefs. You must quit talking to her about college."  
  I talked to Emma after this, and told her that life is made up of choices we have to make for ourselves, and that while our parents are looking out for what they think are our best interests, in the end we have to make our own way through the world.  I don't know what she chose to do; as we moved away as I made a choice to try a different career than teaching. 
   I don't really believe that God thinks we should remain intentionally ignornant in the world, but I too had that advice from the church I attended. Ignorance and religion too often seem to be partners in turning life into a dream of the hereafter rather than a good life in the herenow.  
  My friend, Beth, who lives in Honduras, tells me that poverty there is not only the result of corrupt government, but of corrupt religion; one that says suffering here is good for you and all that matters is getting into heaven, so put up with all the crap, don't better yourself, just keep focused on the reward after you die.  
  I find this view of religion total nonsense.  Who would want to go to heaven where a ruler who liked seeing us suffer during our lifetime reigned?  Rather we take on our own lives, and with God's help make it a joyful life.  And to get that you get all of the education you can possible cram into your head.
 
   

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Midsummer

    Since 2003, the year we visited our cousins in Skee, Sweden, Midsummer day is special.   In Sweden where the Hansson family came from (in the area along the Norway-Sweden boundary about 60 miles south of Oslo), the climate is cooler, damper and milder in the winters, but not terribly different from here in Cushing, WI (maybe more like along the Lake Superior shore).
  However, being much farther north, the winter days are dark most hours, followed by summers that by mid June the days last from 3 am to 11 pm and barely dark in the 11-3 night.  The long days are cumulate in the Midsommar celebration. 
  Cousin Arne believed that he had to have new potatoes from the garden and fresh strawberries for the celebration.  He cheated a little by raising a hill of potatoes in a 5 gallon plastic pail, kept in the barn overnight, and let out during the day at first.  The new potatoes might be small, but were part of the old life when the long winter food supply was, too often, gone by the time the garden began producing, so new potatoes were counted on by mid June. 
  Another tradition was fresh strawberries on Midsummer, festooned on a white layer cake.  
  When we visited over Midsummer, Arne and Lillian had both.  The garden strawberries were still only pink, but southern Sweden had ripe ones and whatever the price, one bought some for the cake.  
  So this year, with the strawberry picking beginning this morning (2 quarts), and the potatoes thriving in the garden, we may have the Swedish dinner too.   
    My Swedish cousins will get together for their family reunion on midsummer day again this year, as they always do, and celebrate. We are invited, but it seems as if our world traveling days are over now.  However, we will remember them with a glass of aquavit this Thursday at 5-7 pm at the Luck Museum where Scandinavian beverages are featured as the new "Skal" exhibit goes up the following week. 
  
  Some photos from the Farm






The Farm gardens, orchard, and berries look prosperous

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Summer

The thermometer in the shade says 89F at noon today, however the strong breeze and dry air make it pleasant to sit on the roofed porch, and sip my iced well water from my $8000, 2015 well. I figure each drink cup of water should be valued at 10 cents until I get my full return from the well. I think that will be about 2050. Maybe I should change it to 20 cents each to half the payoff time.
Scott and I were out early finishing the new metal roof on the garage. We had it almost done, just one half-sheet along the edge and the ridge. Got it all done by 9 am before it got too sunny and hot to be on a roof.
The garage was built in about 1948, and had three layers of asphalt shingles which we roofed over with steel panels. Steel, 3x12 feet panels, go on very fast using a battery drill and screws, are not any more expensive than shingles, last at least twice as long, and although hail will dent them, it will not puncture the roof.
The first garage roof was hit by golf-ball and baseball size hail back in the 1960s, punching large holes in the blue shingles. Insurance helped pay for a new roof then. Another roof lasted nearly 30 years and then Dad hired his grandson to put on a third layer. These turned out to be the Certain-teeded junk ones that in 15 years were already in rough shape. So the steel covers it all.
Next spent an hour mowing the lawn, but the mower seemed to be overheating, so I moved to the garden and hoed for an hour, but the hoe-er was overheating, so thought about taking the garden tiller to the sand garden -- where the watermelons finally have appeared, but I was worried it would overheat too.
Margo is doing a Luck Museum shift today (10-1). She volunteers some Saturdays to keep it open Memorial Day to Labor Day. She never really recovered back to normal from the neck and back surgeries and the cancer treatment. She lost strength, stability, and functionality and so has to choose less strenuous activities that keep her enjoying life.
Last week she had her final cancer followup check. If you make 5 years after diagnosis, it is a milestone that says you are likely going to make another 5 OK. June 2012-Aug 2013 was a hard time that then was followed by two surgeries that stabilized a back and neck worn out from years of being a nursing assistant in the days when heavy lifting was part of the job.
I watered her flowers as the rain that almost came this morning didn't. The forecast is for a cool wet Sunday and then hot wet early week, a good chance to relieve the couple of weeks of dry weather.
When I was a kid, on a dry hot June day, it would have been an almost 100% certainty I would be spending all of a day like today hauling hay bales-- the square bales that you loaded by hand. If not with Dad and my brothers, then for my neighbor Raymond Noyes. It was hot, hard work.
I suppose I shouldn't complain as Dad or Raymond were out there working hard too, and before and after haying had to milk their cows too as well as try to motivate a young man whose mind was elsewhere, often straining my young eyes to see if one of the Gullickson Twins was raking hay in the next field, working on her tan in a bikini. Odd how interesting that was at the time.



Here on the farm, we have 4 gardens this year. The fruit garden-- strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and blueberries with a row of tomatoes too. The vegetable garden--potatoes, peas, radishes, and lettuce. The sand garden with watermelons and muskmelons along the Riverroad. And the pumpkin/squash garden to sell at the River Road Ramble. All but the squash/pumpkin garden are doing well. We had to replant that one.
The apples set quite well in the orchard, and so the spraying regime of every 2 weeks begins now.
The lawn has finally slowed down with the dry weather and we made it through the flush without going out and buying a new lawn mower. Sharpening the blades regularly helps old mowers make another season.
The events of spring and summer are coming rapidly. Memorial Day we put together a booklet on all of the 13 WWI soldiers buried in Wolf Creek Cemetery trying to do a little research on each. The Rock club has it's big rock show in Frederic next weekend. Then comes the Sterling Picnic. July is Lucky Days and the Fair, and then August, Cushing Fun Days and finally the Ramble in September. Margo and I volunteer to do various jobs at each and so it becomes quite busy for the summer. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy the events when you feel responsible for helping make them a success.
I had my visit to the doctor for the year and other than being a more substantial person than she would like, I am in fair to good condition (always with the qualifier -- for my age.).



For a few recent videos from the Farm, check out my youtube channel.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Epson WF 7620 Banner Print

This is purely an educational post that explains how to take advantage of an Epson WF 7620 printer to make a banner as big as 13x47.24 inches (the limit of the printer). 
  I have one of these printers and the Luck museum has one.  We bought them because they have an 11x17 scan/copy area and can print on up to 13x18 size paper (all measurements are inches).  
  The printer is reasonably decent output, but as the clerk at Best Buy told me, "if you don't print regularly with Epson printers, the heads clog up."  She was right!!!
  However, I have found that I can unclog the heads by following the DIY information found on the internet that includes soaking the heads over a wet paper towel and if needed, gently syringing distilled water through them.  Something one shouldn't have to do!
  Anyway, the printer specifications claim to print banners up to 47.24 inches long. (that comes from the metric 120 cm long and 33 cm wide maximums which may be some metric standard? ).
  I bought a roll of cheap paper at Walmart in the art supplies area.  It is like typing paper only on a roll and 12 inches by 100 feet.  I cut off 48 inches of it and tried to feed it into the single sheet feeder, but it was too floppy.  So I taped the leading edge to a sheet of heavier 12x18 paper and that would let the printer grab the paper and feed it through OK.  Once it gets started through, it goes the rest of the way fine. 
  Next I tried to find a program that will let me do a page layout of 12x47.24.   Word will do 12x22 -- and no longer.  Printshop 13x18 and nothing longer.  However, Open Office (the free word processor) lets me define any size. Wonder why the other programs don't? 
   I went to the printer setup on my computer and defined a "Banner" paper type of 12x47.24.  Then I designed a poster and printed it to the Epson selecting the rear feed, the new Banner paper size and pushed the print button.  It worked!!! 
  Of course, since the paper was not glossy, the quality was not wonderful, and the Epson was not printing through all of the nozzles as usual, so a little streaky until I told it to print slow and high quality.  And I have to cut the tape holding the back stiffener paper off.  
       Imagine this 47.24 inches long and 12 inches tall.  Now I think I will see if I can find 13 inch rolls of glossy ink paper.  
     I tried to find out how to do this on the internet, but nothing for the Epson WF 7620.  Some printers have a roll feed paper and cutter built in, but not mine.  However it is pretty handy to have a 4 foot poster.
  What is my rating for the printer?  It does pretty good with the scanner top feed.  I can scan double sided and up to about 25 pages at a time without much trouble jamming unless it is very thin paper or badly wrinkled.  The scan quality can be set to be plenty high for the museum.  I can scan to a flash drive, SD card, my computer or the cloud.  
   I have it networked at home and that works fine. At the museum the networking would sometimes drop out, so I just hooked it directly to the computer.   
  The ink is very expensive and it does use a lot.  At home I refill my own cartridges with pigment ink and at the museum we buy them.  Their first printer clogged so bad, I took it back after a year (we had a 3 -year extended Best Buy warranty--and they gave us a new one).  That one also had some error messages indicating stuck paper or something.  I have had my own for nearly 3 years now and other than the clogging nuisance, it works pretty good.  I don't print a lot and that is my problem too.  The heads are expensive, but replaceable -- but cost nearly as much as the printer ($200 for the printer, $120 for the heads).  They have "micro fine" holes that are almost impossible to keep functioning without a daily print with each color and black. 
   Every inkjet printer I ever had clogged, so I expect that.  The old HP's were easiest -- their print head was right in the cartridge and every time you bought a new cartridge you got to start over new.  My Kodak was terrible, and all of my Epson's spent about as much time having the heads being soaked as they did printing even with Epson ink cartridges.